Afghanistan: Obama orders withdrawal of 33,000 troops
President Barack Obama has announced the withdrawal of 10,000 US troops from Afghanistan this year and another 23,000 by the end of September 2012.
Speaking from the White House, he said it was "the beginning, but not the end, of our effort to wind down this war".
Mr Obama's announcement, after a month-long strategy review, outlined the exit of the forces he sent to the country at the end of 2009 as part of a "surge".
The reductions are larger and faster than military commanders had advised.
They told the president that the recent security gains were fragile and reversible, and had urged him to keep troop numbers high until 2013.
That would have given them another full "fighting season" - in addition to the one now under way - to attack Taliban strongholds and their leaders.
Nevertheless, about 68,000 US troops will remain in Afghanistan. All US combat troops are scheduled to leave by 2013, provided that Afghan forces are ready to assume responsibility for security.